Thursday, November 14, 2013

Send letters that make an impact

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you have seen my posts about sending an end of the year insurance letter to patients or a customized welcome letter to your new patients, but I don’t think I have ever helped you with how to create these customized letters. There are two ways in Dentrix you can create a customized, personal letter to your patients … Quick Letters or Letter Merge.

Both the Quick Letters and the Letter Merge letters are stored in the same location on your server so if you want to create a new letter, you need to know where to save your letter. Go to Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Preferences, then click on the Paths tab. Find the location of the Letter Template Path. This is where all merge letters are located and where you need to save any new letters. Now that you have this folder location, let’s create a new letter. Open Microsoft Word and create a new blank document. Next, click on Open Existing Document, point to that folder location, locate document DXTLM99.doc, and open it. This document holds all the merge fields that are available to use within a Dentrix Quick Letter or Letter Merge. Now you can type up your letter and copy/paste these merge fields into your letter at the appropriate places so it will pull patient information into your letter. When you save your new letter, it can only contain 7 characters in the name and must be saved in that Letter Template folder I mentioned earlier. Your letter is now ready to be added to the Quick Letters list, the Letter Merge list, or both. 

The Quick Letter icon is on all Dentrix modules and is used to send a letter to one patient. It is great for collection letters, referrals to specialists, updating patient information, or a thank you letter. If you open the Quick Letters, you will find several letters that already come with your Dentrix software. If you want to look at the letter and edit it, highlight the letter in the list and click on Open Template. This will open the letter template in Microsoft Word where you can edit the text of the document. If you want to add a new letter to the list, click New and enter the description of the letter in the first box and the document name in the Merge Letter Template fields (this is the 7-character name plus the extension). You are ready to use your new letter.

The Letter Merge is used for sending a mass mailing to a group of patients. This feature is located on the Office Manager under the Letters tab. There are several categories and letters from which you can choose and you can edit these letters or add your own. If you want to edit an existing letter, select the category then highlight the letter and click Edit. A new window will open where you would select the parameters for the merge. Today, however, we are just talking about editing and adding the letters so click on Open Template. This will open the letter template in Microsoft Word where you can edit the document text or change the merge fields. Once you are done editing, exit and say yes to save. If you want to create a completely new letter, make sure you have already created your letter with the instructions above and click on New from within the Category your letter should be stored. From this window, you will need to add the Letter Name (this is a description of the letter), the Merge Data File Name (this is your 7 character name with .out file extension), and the Merge Letter Template (this is the 7 character name and file extension), then click on the Data Fields tab. You need to have a check in each field that is represented in your new letter so it will merge properly.
Whether you are using the Quick Letters feature or the Letter Merge for a mass mailing, it is important to remember that after you have printed the letters to send and you click exit, always say “No” to save. Otherwise, you will write over your merge fields and your next letter merge will not work.

If you want to read some of my other blog posts related to letter merge, check these out:
Unscheduled Treatment . . . the urgency is now!
Don't let unused benefits go to waste
The New Patient Experience . . . welcome letter


Dayna Johnson, Certified Dentrix Trainer
Dayna loves her work. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental industry, and she’s passionate about building efficient, consistent, and secure practice management systems. Dayna knows that your entire day revolves around your practice management software—the better you learn to use it, the more productive and stress-free your office will be. In 2016, Dayna founded Novonee ™, The Premier Dentrix Community, to help cultivate Dentrix super-users all over the country. Learn more from Dayna at and contact Dayna at

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